Atlanta freelance writer/creative director - Carol S. Niemi
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Congrats to REI for standing for something!

Congrats to REI for standing for something!

“Black Friday” didn’t always mean hordes of shoppers. In fact, the term was coined in the 1960s by the Philadelphia police to describe the mayhem caused by the influx of fans into the city for the legendary Army-Navy football game every Thanksgiving weekend.

In the 1980s, retailers spun the term to refer to the start of their most profitable shopping weekend of the year – when they finally make it into the black. Now online retailers cap the weekend with Cyber Monday.

Last year, during Black Friday weekend, 133.7 million people shopped and spent an average of $380 each. More than half (55%) of all Americans shopped on Black Friday itself, and 23% of them reported camping outside a store the night before (er, that would be Thanksgiving, the day once reserved for family and friends). This year, so many retailers are eager to cash in that many of them are opening at 6:00 on Thanksgiving evening!

family, childhood, season and people concept - happy family playing with autumn leaves in park

So what retailer in his right mind would miss out on Black Friday?

At least one – REI, the outdoor outfitter known for its wide array of quality outdoor wear. And REI is bucking the trend in a big way – by closing all of its 143 stores all day on Black Friday and paying its 12,000 employees to stay home from work and get outside.

In the words of CEO Jerry Stritzke:

“We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.”

What a great example of standing for something your constituents really care about! People who shop at REI are outdoor people. So are most of its employees. As an REI customer myself, I can say that the last place I want to be on a beautiful late fall day in Atlanta is a hot crowded store.

The company is promoting its stand in a print and TV campaign called “OptOutside,” with the tagline: “REI is closing on Black Friday. Join us.”

To see examples of the work, go to For more info, google #OptOutside.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!